Monday, April 25, 2016

6 Ways to be Your Healthiest Self

Being healthier doesn’t mean you need to overhaul your lifestyle. Simple changes can add up and make a big difference. Try implementing some of our recommended changes below, and feel the effects on your mind, body, and wallet.

1. Eat well. 

Indulge in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats on a regular basis. Skip the processed foods, especially those that are fried and/or high in sugar.

2. Exercise.

Get moving. Whether it’s a daily walk or even low-impact exercise such as stretching, Pilates, yoga, and swimming, these forms of movement all have a great impact on your overall health.

3. Get your ZZZs.

Sleep is an important aspect of your overall health, allowing all the systems of your body to renew and recharge. Since sleep is crucial to good health, physical and mental, and overall well-being, if you’re having difficulty with sleep, be sure to see your health care provider.

4. Make an appointment with your doctor. 

With most insurance plans, an annual preventative visit is now free. Take advantage of that by checking in with your doctor to discuss your health – even if you’re not having any issues. Your doctor can often recognize problems before they become more challenging. In this way, you can help ward off catastrophic issues and save on your health at the same time.

5. Consider changing medications.

 If you do require meds (either prescription or over-the-counter), consider a generic or other lower-cost option, including mail-order pharmacies. In some instances, another medication might treat your condition at a lower cost. Of course, changing or modifying medication should always be done under the supervision of your physician.

If you are picking up prescription medications, remember to always use the FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card. Whether you are insured, underinsured, or uninsured, the savings card will save you an average of 43% on your medications. It’s easy to use: visit our website to print a card, download a card using our free app for Apple or Android, or request a card be mailed to you. Just remember to always have the card or app with you when you visit the pharmacy!

6. Do a benefit check-up.

Do you really know the full benefits available from your health insurance coverage? In some cases, your health insurance may offer perks such as a membership (full coverage or at a discounted rate) to a designated health club or gym. Yet, many individuals are often unaware of all the extras insurance offers, and the money they could be saving. Take time to review your health insurance plan to ensure you’re taking full advantage of all the benefits available to you, another smart way to save on your health.

Prevention is one of the key factors when it comes to saving on your health. These six tips can help prevent illness and/or injury before it occurs, develop an open line of communication with your doctor or health care provider, and put you on the path to a healthy, long life.

Live Healthy. Live Smart.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Top 5 Ways to Save at the Grocery Store

According to experts, food costs account for 10-15% of a household’s income. While food costs are a constant and can’t be completely eliminated, there are ways to save at the grocery store. Check out these top ways to save from financial experts:

1. Choose the right store.

Believe it or not, where you shop can have a huge impact on your grocery bill. While you would think basic grocery items would be comparably priced in all stores, that’s often not the case. What can you do? 
  • Comparison shop in a few stores at least once. Determine what store has the overall best prices for your family’s needs and make that your primary grocery store.
  • If time/your schedule allows, consider shopping at different grocery stores for different items based on the best prices. For instance, you might purchase canned goods from one grocery store, while another grocery store has the best prices on meats and dairy products. 

2. Stock up during sales.

Some grocery stores offer periodic sales. This is a great opportunity to stock up on items that have a long shelf life and can be easily stored for future use. If you purchase grocery items such as meats during a sale, you can easily freeze them.

3. Substitute expensive items.

Grocery items like red meat can be costly. Consider substituting less expensive items such as chicken or beans in recipes like tacos or chili to save at the grocery store.

Consider buying generic or store brands. Often, there isn’t much difference in the ingredients in generic or store brand items compared to name brands. Because of the potential cost savings, at least consider generic or store brands during your next trip to the grocery store.

4. Buy larger quantities.

Whether its items like toilet paper and paper towels, or chopped meat and bread, buying larger packages at the grocery store usually results in savings. In addition, you may consider purchasing items at a warehouse club for additional savings.

5. Use the FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card.

If you pick up prescriptions at the grocery store pharmacy, be sure to bring along the FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card. You can download a FREE card on our website, download our free app, or request a card to be mailed to you. Those using the FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card see average savings of 43%!

Additional tips for saving at the grocery store: 

  • Stick to a list. You’re less likely to impulse buy, which can result in overspending.
  • Shop less often. More frequent trips to the store often result in overspending. Plan ahead to alleviate additional trips. 
  • Don’t forget the coupons. Whether you rely on printed coupons you actually bring with you or apps on your smartphone, coupons can still save you money at the grocery store. Check out Consumer Reports for the best apps. 
  • Shop for items such as fruit and produce in season for additional savings. Or, grow your own.
Are you interested in learning more about saving money at the grocery store? Check out the booklet, “30 Ways in 30 Days,” the USDA’s low-cost food plan. Or, refer to books such as “Living a Beautiful Life on Less” by Danielle Wagasky.

Purchases at the grocery store may be one of the higher expenses for a household, but there are ways to save at the grocery store without sacrificing delicious, nutritious meals and a healthy lifestyle.

Live Healthy. Live Smart.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Controlling the Healthcare Costs of Cancer

Today, cancer has touched most people’s lives in some way. As a result, most of us are aware of the high healthcare costs associated with the disease.

Beyond the steps you can take to reduce your chance of developing cancer (not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, protecting your skin from sun exposure, and limiting alcohol consumption, for instance), there are also ways to control the cost of cancer healthcare, since we live in a time of increasing healthcare costs, as cancer patient data confirms
  • The total cost of cancer prescriptions commonly amounts to $120,000 per year.
  • The typical out-of-pocket cost for an insured cancer patient is as much as $30,000.
  • Statistics indicate that cancer prescription drug prices are going up about $8,500 yearly and that the annual drug costs for cancer patients ballooned between 1995-2013 from $54,000 to $207,000.
The good news is that there are steps you can take to reduce your cancer treatment costs!
  • Get insured. The Affordable Care Act requires that most insurance plans cover recommended preventive services without copays, including some cancer screenings. These protections also do away with annual and lifetime dollar limits on coverage, and stop insurers from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. So, this is a good place to start.
  • Ask your physician if there are any cost-friendly alternative cancer treatments that offer the same results. For example, research on colon cancer treatments Zaltrap and Avastin show that they work similarly and give comparable survival rate benefits but differ in monthly costs by $6,000! Be your own advocate.
  • Reduce your prescription costs by getting prescription discounts via the no-cost FamilyWize card, which can save you an average of 43% your prescriptions. You simply print your new FamilyWize card, download the FamilyWize app, or have it mailed to you for free, and then show it at any of the many participating pharmacies nationwide.
  • If your cancer is curable, you can possibly reduce the duration of treatment, by making supportive lifestyle changes. Get a list of these at
  • For certain cancer drugs, pharmaceutical companies offer financial assistance via need-based cancer drug patient assistance programs. If you qualify, the cost will be greatly reduced, or even free. Here’s a list of participating companies.
What not to do to reduce cancer treatment costs: skip doses or reduce your intake of the prescribed prescription dosage. Statistics show that it’s a course taken by many; 10-20% of cancer patients skip treatment to manage costs. But taking your cancer medicines as prescribed is critical to recovery potential. So choose the healthier, safer savings options noted above.

Contributing Writer 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Saving During Tax Season

Typically recognized on April 15, Tax Day is April 18 this year. Three extra days to prepare your tax returns and find ways to save! Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Find the best means of filing: 

  • For some, preparing and filing your taxes yourself equates to savings. Check out free resources, such as this, for filing tax returns. 
  • If you made under $62,000 last year, you can file your taxes for free. For more information, check out our partner United Way’s website.
  • Not interested in tackling your taxes on your own? Sometimes paying someone to take care of it for you is the most economical option – time, knowledge, and expertise equate to money in this case. 

While it’s an individual preference based on your particular situation, finding the appropriate means of filing your taxes can result in savings this tax season. Do your research and pick the option that works best for you!

2. Stay organized:

Now is the time to think about how you’ll be better prepared for next year’s taxes, and organization is key. Whether you use an inexpensive filing system, such as paper files and hanging folders, or utilizing electronic means such as software or apps, keeping tracking of all the papers and documents required for your taxes can save you a lot of time when tax season rolls around.

For instance, this can help ensure you won’t forget important deductions (did you contribute to any charities?), can provide valuable back-up documentation as needed, and can lead to less stress if you are ever audited. Check out apps such as CamScanner or a program called Shoeboxed to get started. Each of these programs capture images of every receipt and uploads them. The images are then sorted into categories, making tax preparation much easier and more efficient.

3. Recognize valuable deductions:

Whether it’s the philanthropic work you engage in or the monetary donations you make to charitable causes, the time, energy, and money spent on philanthropic activities can be important deductions many individuals fail to take on their tax returns. For instance, the miles you drive your own vehicle related to charitable work or the ingredients you purchase for food items prepared in your own home for volunteer events can be deductions that you don’t want to miss.

In addition, according to experts, another area of significant deductions for saving money is home repair. From energy improvements and home office repairs to home improvement loans and the installation of solar panels, valuable deductions may be right under your roof!
Remember: It’s best to speak with a qualified tax consultant regarding any deductions or do adequate research.

Staying organized, finding the most cost-effective means of tax preparation, and recognizing valuable deductions are all worth your effort and time. With the right knowledge, preparation, and effort, you too can realize significant savings during tax season.

Finally, if you do get a refund check this year, the FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card can help you limit how much of your money is spent on prescription medications. If you currently take a medication, download a FREE FamilyWize card here

 Live Healthy. Live Smart.